There is an air of mystique about the latest Under Armour release, the ClutchFit Force, due to its truly unique looking upper and futuristic chassis. With a growing reputation in the boot world thanks to several top performing boots and key sponsorship deals, UA is looking for new ways to connect with player performance and this boot definitely has something different to offer. Built on the same premise as several american football cleats released in recent times, this is not simply a boot that has appeared out of thin air. Instead, UA has built on their existing development and transferred their knowledge to the soccer world.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing the introductory Electric Blue/Academy/High-Vis Yellow colorway. With plenty of you waiting for an update on how they perform, here is the in-depth details you need to know should you have interest in buying a pair.
The ClutchFit Force is already available in 3 colorways.
Another bold release from UA that adds a level of technology that we haven’t seen before. Visually they are pretty striking in hand, although they are far better looking from afar! The unusual rubber upper covering has an extremely textured feel. Love the modern, futuristic looking soleplate – a staple of UA releases!
Breaking In and Comfort
Given the amount of new technology in these boots, you’d anticipate comfort challenges from first wear. The rubber upper is relatively soft yet it holds a firm layer right across the foot. They offer a pretty natural feel as you run and flex as you move or come in contact with the ball. Visually, they don’t really come across that way, so you might be surprised to hear that they compare pretty well against several synthetic materials on the market. Where they differ is in the thickness and touch on the ball.
An area where they really excel is inside the boot and it all starts with that wonderful UA 4D foam insert. Taking it out of the boot, it is thicker than a normal insert and offers a very spongy and responsive feel. As I’ve repeated with pretty much every UA release, it is one of the best inserts that you will find on the market.
In Game Performance
There are several areas to talk about here, all geared around that unusual Trivela Performance Microfiber Upper with rubber cage covering. First off is its actual construction and functionality. The rubberized 3-D material offers two-way stretch capabilities and works with the symmetrical lace system to provide an unprecedented contoured fit and feel across your foot. By providing stretch in all four directions, it has the ability to move in tandem with your movements. Although its difficult to attribute one performance characteristic to a particular piece of technology, there is no doubting the Performance Microfiber plays a role when you look to turn and sprint at pace. That extra bit of release added to the spring-back effect of a rubber material only helps the boot mold around the foot and improve initial spring.
Touch on the ball is unusual, as you don’t really get a full feel as you dribble, all down to the thickness of the material. They feel great to wear, but as you take control of the ball, the rubber area soaks in most of the impact and for those of you like me who want to know where the ball is as you move at pace, that extra level of feel dissipates. Control wise, they are ideal for taking in long passes thanks to the traction created between the ball and the 3-D rubberized material. For that reason, I see them suiting central players more than wingers or players who like to dribble at pace on the ball.
When it comes to striking shots, these boots are particularly effective as they allow for some additional rebound. Think of it this way; if you were to do the simple act of dropping a ball from 5 feet on top of first a rubber mat and then a fabric or single layer microfiber mesh, where would the ball bounce highest. Rubber offers rebound, and for that reason it can only be impactful when attempting to really strike through a shot.
Traction and Soleplate
Then there is the soleplate, with its modern see-through appearance. This is something we have regularly seen UA include on their boots (think of the Hydrastrike as a prime example) and it has proven to be a very popular visual addition. In wet conditions, it proves even more useful as the blades catch the surface and offer optimal acceleration. On turf, they play out pretty well and I’d have no qualms about recommending them for the surface, but ultimately the soleplate is better suited to natural conditions.
The one unusual feature we haven’t seen before is the skeleton plate design that works with your foot’s natural movement to support each individual branch of bones in your foot. Five different ridged lines run from the heel right through the forefoot and follow a set pattern similar to the skeletal structure of the foot. Realistically, it is there to enhance traction without losing stability but I’m sure the tech specs would refer to some injury prevention benefits. Fortunately from my experiences, I can’t confirm or demote such opinions!
What do they Compare to?
Even though they are the first boot to feature an entire cage of rubber around the upper, there are several boots that they offer similarities to. First one is the Warrior Skreamer, which featured a similar unusual looking rubber arrowhead design. Both are structured to perform in similar ways when striking shots. The one other boot we can somewhat relate them to is the Puma evoPOWER. This is less to do with the materials used and more to do with the boots stretch characteristics. Both are intended to offer plenty of flex in multiple directions and move more uniformly with the movements of your foot. It isn’t something we have seen much of before, but it is an untapped area where performance can be vastly altered.
How do they Fit?
Definitely true to size length wise, but they are not very giving width wise and offer a decently narrow fit. The two-way stretch offer does provide some additional room through wear, but its not the case through the first few sessions. The boot is built in the same mold as several American football cleats released in recent times, so UA has experience with the overall comfort and on-field fit that players require.
For me it all sits with the tongue and its role on the boot. It offers no functionality from a high-end perspective and the fact it has no texture gives it a very bland role. I would have rather seen some light padding added or for UA to change it appearance to a single color. Also, I’m personally, not a big fan of the overall aesthetics of the boot. Yes, the rubber overlay serves its purpose and the decision to cover the entire upper with the material was a wise choice, but it is still very odd visually. The US version has a much more striking look, if you want something different.
Find the ClutchFit Force available in 3 colorways.
The Skinny Summary
Highlight: An advanced, slightly offbeat release from UA that takes performance in a whole new direction.
Category: Mix between the control and power category, we are placing them in the Power hybrid.
Weight: A competitive 8.oz
Would I Buy Them: From a performance perspective they are rock solid, but I’m just not a fan of the visuals.
Player Position: Ideal for central players who like to get on the ball and spread the ball about. Anyone looking for something with a slightly more tackier upper will benefit.